Ligue 1: Paris Saint-Germain labors to 4-2 win over Evian
PARIS (AP) — Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain again struggled for inspiration in a scrappy 4-2 win over bottom side Evian on Sunday in the French league.
After claiming just one point in its three previous matches, Laurent Blanc's side was caught cold at the Parc des Princes, going behind in the 14th minute when Adrien Thomasson's glanced header found Cedric Barbosa, who fired home with a half-volley.
Evian keeper Benjamin Leroy then denied PSG's handful of half chances and Blanc's players relied on set pieces to come back, as David Luiz got the better of Barbosa and leveled from a corner with a powerful header that Leroy could only divert into his own net at the half-hour mark.
Marco Verratti then scored his first goal for the club eight minutes later after Evian defenders failed to clear a long free kick. First at the ball, Zlatan Ibrahimovic could not beat his marker but Verratti made no mistake from the rebound.
As PSG fans stated to relax, Gregory van der Wiel's comical own goal silenced the home crowd and brought back the 18th-ranked visitors into the game in the 64th minute, with the defender beating keeper Salvatore Sirigu from close range with a mishit header while under no pressure.
Javier Pastore concluded a neat collective move with a precise volley for only his second goal this season to restore the hosts' lead and substitute Edinson Cavani sealed PSG's win two minutes from time. Cavani, who was jeered by PSG fans when he came on, and Ezequiel Lavezzi were brought back into Blanc's side this weekend after the South Americans were sanctioned for failing to show up at a training camp during the Christmas break. Lavezzi also came in as a substitute in the 79th.
PSG played its first home match since the deadly assault on Charlie Hebdo magazine's Paris office by Islamic extremists who killed 12 people and fans paid a tribute to the victims with a minute of applause before kick-off.
The win provisionally lifted PSG to third in the standings — four points behind leader Lyon — before fourth-place Saint-Etienne's trip to Rennes later Sunday. Second-place Marseille hosted Guingamp looking to bounce back following back-to-back defeats in 2015.